The Agarwal Residence combines old and new to create a masterpiece
Ajay Arya of A Square Designs creates a home with a striking yet restrained narrative
The project involved creating a high-end residence for Nishant and Deepika Agarwal, owners of one of India’s leading plywood companies, Austin Plywood. The apartment is located in Kolkata’s upscale Alipore area in a residential tower with sprawling one-unit-per-floor apartments measuring 5,500 sq-ft.
The clients were known to be extremely house-proud, with Nishant liking statement interiors and Deepika being extremely involved in ensuring a beautiful, well-maintained home. The couple gave the designer a carte blanche for the house, and assessing their personalities, he decided to create interiors that would be striking yet restrained — a design narrative that would weave impactful elements without allowing it to become garish or lurid.
The originally 5BHK apartment was transformed, after a careful scrutiny of the family’s requirements and lifestyle, into a 3BHK residence with a lounge, a playroom cum study, a utility area and staff quarters. In this process important areas such as the master bedroom were made expansive to underscore the desired luxe feeling. For the interior treatment, the shell was kept muted in cream, and overlaid with elements — subtle albeit striking — from high-end Indian and European brands (painstakingly vetted by the designer) and bespoke furniture (custom-made by Kolkata-based Ochre at Home) to create an environment that was visually rich and luxurious, but never gaudy. While materials such as marble, timber, silk, mother of pearl and crystal, among others, articulate grandeur, brands such as Roberto Cavalli, Versace Home, Sarita Handa, Klove and Hands add finesse into the compositions.
The lift lobby sets the tone with its Roberto Cavalli wallpaper, a beautiful chandelier sourced from Europe and a round table. The geometrical flooring pattern, tailor-made with Italian marble varieties, lends a beautiful texture to the space. The foyer area is wood-panelled and disguises a bank of storage, demonstrating that practical considerations are as important as beauty.
Instead of breaking down the volume of the living room with small seating islands, it was treated as a singular space, in order to convey the sense of modern regality, and features a suite of long, comfortable sofas, accompanied by chairs, a pouffe and a trio of coffee tables in the centre, resting on a hand-knotted silk carpet. Overhead, a Bohemian crystal chandelier adds interest. Spatial pauses by way of beautiful drapery, a framed Pashmina ornamented with hand embroidery and upholstery that plays with neutrals and pastels, ensure adequate visual engagement.
The other areas such as the dining room and the praying area follow the same vocabulary of understated luxury. The former features an eight-seater dining table with a sculpture-like base and windows shaded by graceful drapery. The praying area is pristine and simple, with a ledge for deities and hand-carved pillars. Near the dining rooms lies a deck, a restful space designed by Rita Singh, complete with greens, a water body and a sculpture by Sanatan Dinda.
The kitchen has been custom-built to ensure it withstands all sorts of rough usage. Granite and marble shelving, marine ply shutters, old-school butt hinges, scratch-resistant clear lacquer come together to create a highly-functional space, with a stylish touch introduced via the bent glass faces of the overhead storage units.
The private spaces are expressions in elegance and serenity. The master bedroom, commensurate with its status, uses high-end elements from Versace Home in its decor. The most striking feature of its ensuite bathroom is the vintage-style chequered flooring evocative of Italian villas, rendered with White Brazilian, Pietra Grey and Viola marbles.
The child’s room has nuances of American classic furniture, enlivened with gay, hand-painted stripes on the headboard and side tables. The wardrobes, too, carry this effervescent flavour forward with their shutters featuring cheery fabric sandwiched in glass. The windows against which the bed is placed are given a protection of louvered grills for safety.
The den, where the family congregates, juxtaposes comfort and style, with deep, commodious sofas, recliners and a chaise longue arranged against a wall bearing a 3D wooden design. Overhead, a rafter-like detail with concealed lighting lends a strong directionality to the scheme.
This apartment exemplifies that an interior design style that is removed from the prevalent straight-lined ‘contemporary’ aesthetic need not be automatically tagged as ostentatious or fussy — for between these two can be found a beautiful hybrid that marries old-world grace with new-age sensibilities.
Name of the project: Agarwal Residence
Area: 5,500 sq-ft
Design firm: A Square Designs
Principal designer: Ajay Arya
Furniture: Ochre at Home
Photographs: Photographix India